Kata-Karon mayor denies five more charges in connection to Phuket taxi mafia

PHUKET: Police have slapped five more charges on Tawee Thongcham, mayor of Phuket’s tourist-popular beach area Kata-Karon, for his alleged connection to the powerful taxi mafia in the area.

Mr Tawee has denied all charges.

“Mr Tawee has been charged with the same thing as before, which is conspiracy and the aiding of illegal activities carried out by criminal associations,” Maj Gen Paween Pongisirin of Region 8 Police told the Phuket Gazette today.

“Our investigation has unveiled that he not only supported the Kata-Karon taxi association, which is the organization tied to his first charge, but that he also supported taxi associations at Club Med, Avista Phuket Resort & Spa, Peach Hill Resort, Casa Del Sol Hotel and Baumanburi Phuket Resort.

The evidence will be handed over to the public prosecutor soon, confirmed Gen Paween. Each charge will be heard in a separate trial.

“Mr Tawee has denied all the charges, which he has the right to do. However, it does not matter. We have enough evidence to go against him in court,” Gen Paween quipped.

Mr Tawee declined to comment to the Gazette today on his additional charges.

Mr Tawee was arrested on June 4 (story here) as a deployment of 100 soldiers and a huge task force of 1,110 police officers and 40 volunteers began a sweep of Phuket’s west coast to purge the island of illegal, violent, abusive and cheating taxi, tuk-tuk and minivan drivers (story here).

The arrest warrant served on June 4 was issued based on a discovery by Gen Paween’s team of an illegal taxi booth in Kata-Karon having electricity and running water supplied by the Kata-Karon Municipality (story here).

Gen Paween noted today that his team had yet to charge the notorious “Big Four” taxi mafia kingpins that were arrested and denied their charges on June 25 (story here). They were were released on bail the next day (story here).

“We have yet to charge the other officials and are still looking into their connection with Mr Tawee and the taxi mafia,” said Gen Paween.

The four high-ranking officials are Kata-Karon Deputy Mayors Ithiporn Sangkeaw and Sompong Dabpetch, Director of the Kata-Karon Municipality Engineering Division Wanchai Sae-Tan and the Kata-Karon Municipality Chief Administrative Officer Weerasak Anekwongsawat.

— Chutharat Plerin

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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